Sun | Dec 4, 2016

Lights off to save the Earth

Published:Wednesday | March 4, 2015 | 11:06 PMAnastasia Cunningham
Dr Barbara Carby, director of the Disaster Risk Reduction Centre at the Institute for Sustainable Development, speaks with chief executive officer of jamaicansmusic.com Alex Morrissey during the launch of Earth Hour Jamaica at Hope Gardens in St Andrew yesterday.
Terri-Karelle Reid, Gleaner Online brand manager, speaks with Stuart Reeves (centre), chief volunteer photographer, JNBS Foundation Resolution Project, and Alex Morrissey, chief executive officer of jamaicansmusic.com, during the launch of Earth Hour Jamaica at Hope Gardens in St Andrew yesterday.
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How awesome would it be if for just one hour everyone around the world turned off all energy sources in an effort to save the environment? And during that hour everyone just kicked back and enjoyed the natural beauty that Mother Nature offers?

In 2007 Sydney, Australia took the initiative to start the first Earth Hour lights-off event to raise awareness about climate change. Today, because of the dedicated effort of one country, more than 7,000 cities in more than 162 countries around the world commemorate Earth Hour on the last Saturday in March each year, where individuals, communities, households and businesses are encouraged to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour, from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., as a symbol for their commitment to the planet.

Jamaica joined the movement three years ago.

"In 2007, one city in one country decided to encourage its citizens to turn off lights for one hour to demonstrate the importance of reducing energy consumption to combat global warming. In 2014, 135 countries took part in the initiative and lights on many of the world's iconic buildings were turned off in support," stated Dr Barbara Carby, director of the Disaster Risk Reduction Centre at The Institute for Sustainable Development.

"Earth Hour itself can be deemed to be a successful global initiative in bringing to the world's attention the challenge of global warming and the importance of reducing carbon output. Earth Hour has also been the catalyst for a variety of initiatives around the world, such as conservation, passing of environmental legislation, species protection, reducing pollution, recycling and even crowd sourcing of funds for environmental initiatives."

She added that Earth Hour also instigated challenges by cities around the world to reduce carbon emissions by transitioning to renewable energy and carry out climate change adaptation programmes. Several cities have now committed to being run completely by renewable energy within the next 20 or 30 years.

"One city in one country, showing commitment to a cause has snowballed into a global multi-faceted initiative. Never underestimate the power of one," Carby declared.

Speaking yesterday during the launch of Earth Hour Jamaica at Hope Gardens in St Andrew, Carby challenged Jamaicans to take simple, practical actions to protect the environment, outlining some of those measures.

"Never underestimate the power of one cocoa to full basket, even a large basket, so do your part to protect the environment. The state also has a responsibility to protect its citizens and the environment, by carrying out sound environmental practices," she noted.

An initiative of jamaicansmusic.com, headed by Alex Morrissey and Biko Kennedy, Earth Hour Jamaica was launched three years ago, commemorated with the staging of a free concert, lights off for an hour and the use of simple elements to create amazing, lasting effects.

Being staged this year on March 28 at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in St Andrew, the audience will be treated to performances from a host of artistes. For one hour, beginning at 8:30 pm, all power will be turned off within the venue and the audience will be awed with the releasing of floating sky lanterns, inflatable solar-powered lanterns and the lighting of sparkles.

This year, students from the Jamaica National Foundation's Resolution Project will also participate, as select contrasting photographs depicting both the beauty of Jamaica and the adverse effects of pollution will be on display at The Gleaner's floating gallery.

The event is free to the public, but patrons are required to have a ticket to gain entrance, which will be available at select locations.

anastasia.cunningham@gleanerjm.com